Q & A: Mark Venzke

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:32 p.m.

Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.



Age: 54
Birthplace: Hammond, Ind.
Occupation: Unemployed
Education: Coursework, Purdue University
Political offices: None
Past elections: None
Party affiliation: None
ommunity involvement: Member, Citizens Coalition Against War and Terrorism; volunteer/overnight host, Interfaith Hospitality Network; player, High Springs Community Theater; community organizer
Family: Sngle
Contact: 352-575-5823; voteforvenzke@gmail.com

1. What are the biggest issues the city faces, and how would you as a commissioner solve them?

Energy policy: Gainesville needs an energy policy that pursues energy efficiency and conservation and privately owned renewable energy systems much more aggressively. Gainesville Regional Utilities must become a partner in those spheres to steadily reduce reliance on biofuels, coal, natural gas and nuclear electric generating methods with all of their adverse effects. Water resources protection: Gainesville must protect groundwater and surface waters. Gainesville must protect the drinking water source -- the aquifers -- for citizens. Non-technical business promotion: In an initiative that I call “full-spectrum entrepreneurship,” through public and private partnerships, Gainesville needs to promote business literacy among citizens to grow non-technical businesses locally.

2. The city is projecting a nearly $2 million shortfall for its two-year budget period ending in 2013. What initiatives should the commission put in place to raise revenues or cut expenses to make up the gap?

The commission should solicit suggestions from city personnel for decreasing costs and for increasing revenues and should reward personnel for the suggestions that the commission would have implemented. If the budget could not be balanced from proposals, the city should reduce the hours of personnel as uniformly as possible consistent with maintaining public safety and avoiding costs of deficient maintenance. Commissioners should reduce their income 1 percent more than the average reduction of income under the reduction of hours. If voters elect me and if commissioners would not agree to do that, I would return that money to the city.

3. What are your thoughts on the city's 30-year contract to purchase biomass power?

I am very dubious of it. The secrecy, the withholding of information and the obfuscation of issues have been inexcusable. Were the citizens of Gainesville to elect me, I would conduct with as many city commissioners as would be willing to do so a thorough and public examination of the arrangement and of any prudent options for changing the arrangement that may appear necessary. I would obtain approval of a majority of citizens before proceeding with any costly changes in the arrangement.

4. Do you support making changes to employee pension plans? Explain.

I do not know the strengths or weaknesses of the pension plans. However, I support honoring pension commitments to past and present employees. If any changes to pensions would appear wise, I would favor applying those changes to the pensions of new employees.

5. What steps, if any, can and should the city take to improve the local economy?

1. The city of Gainesville should pursue “full-spectrum entrepreneurship” as I describe in the answer to Question 1 above. 2. The city of Gainesville with business organizations should commission a study to determine what businesses would do well in Gainesville and encourage entrepreneurs to establish such businesses. 3. The city of Gainesville with business organizations should promote the establishment of retail businesses in downtown and east Gainesville. 4. The city of Gainesville should adopt a local-preference purchasing policy that would require the city to purchase products and services from local sources when those could meet the needs of the city.

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